It hits you like a brick wall. Suddenly you’re 40 and your energy plummets, leaving you feeling more anxious, irritable, and frustrated with your body and health.
You blame your hormones and vigilantly discuss the angst of perimenopause with your girlfriends. You’ve probably gone to your doctor for answers (and received very little, too).
And here you thought all you had to worry about was menopause! And that’s YEARS away!
But, nope, here you are, 15 years too early for that life stage. Yet suddenly you’re drowning in a vast array of confusing health symptoms. And chronic fatigue is just making it all so much worse.
A Little Bit of Perimenopause History
These symptoms you’re feeling? That’s called “perimenopause”. And thousands of women experience it every single year.
Did you know that perimenopause is a relatively new term in the health world? That your grandmother and great grandmother probably never experienced any of the frustrations you’re feeling?
Perimenopause symptoms – weight gain, worsening PMS, fibroids, fatigue, anxiety, depression, brain fog, irregular periods – didn’t start until about 40-50 years ago.
Cool fact: There are at least 3 cultures in the world today in which the women experience almost zero pain, frustration or confusion when their hormones naturally begin to change. They seamlessly flow from reproductive years into menopause without experiencing the symptoms we now label as perimenopause.
Because in previous generations and in these 3 existing tribes, the diets were almost 100% whole-foods based, the women moved a lot each day going about their chores and work, and they weren’t exposed to the exponentially large amount of stressors we are today.
Toxic load was so much less, too, and women didn’t have nearly as many packaged foods, cleaners and cosmetics in their lives.
Let’s Talk Energy
Why is it, that just as our hormones begin to naturally change, we’re hit with this massive wave of chronic, bone-crushing fatigue?
And why does it feel like, no matter how healthy you eat, you can’t get back your life?
The short answer?
Stress. Specifically, chronic stress.
The nutrient gaps caused by chronic stress.
The constant firing of your adrenals to keep up with all the demands in life.
Your stress load and how resilient your body is at keeping up.
The biggest issue here is that we are exposed to and experience SO MANY stressors each day that our stress response never gets a chance to turn off.
And this leads to nutrient gaps that directly cause lowered levels of energy production.
How Stress Adds Up
Consider this, a typical day for most perimenopausal women:
You wake up feeling groggy, refusing any and all activities and conversations until you’ve had 1-2 cups of coffee.
You get ready for work, push yourself through a busy, hectic, demanding job (with more coffee).
Then, work is done for the day. You feel burnt out and exhausted, wishing like mad to be able to go to bed. Finally, you’re in your PJs, your head hits the pillow and suddenly wide awake!
So, you can’t sleep. Maybe it’s after midnight when you finally fall asleep. Maybe you wake up in the middle of the night for hours, too.
Either way, you wake up super groggy when alarm goes off.
Then you start the cycle again the next day, but this time that lack of sleep is telling your adrenals to pump out more stress hormones to try to keep you alert.
What’s The Problem With The Stress Load?
Continuing in this cycle of poor sleep and high stress, your body begins to have trouble keeping up.
The stress response becomes dysfunctional.
Your metabolism slows down because thyroid hormone production is interrupted.
Digestion gets all crazy – constipation, gas, bloating, food sensitivities – and your body slowly stops absorbing nutrients properly.
High levels of circulating stress hormones (plus digestive issues) lead to whole-body inflammation, which targets you at the cellular level.
Your mitochondria – the energy production powerhouses – misfires and slow down because inflammation prevents nutrients from getting inside.
You end up with hormone resistance because the cells stop responding to normal levels of hormones in your blood, urine or saliva.
And if this chronic, high stress + chronic systemic inflammatory state isn’t corrected, major diseases will eventually pop up.
The Right Diet
For women in perimenopause who are battling chronic fatigue, not just any healthy diet will do.
Nutrient gaps from over-active adrenals “eating up” important hormone food and from the digestive tract being turned way down mean your body is craving very specific foods.
Leverage your healthy diet by adjusting macro balances and food variety in order to refuel the stress response.
Whole foods are best, at least 80% of the time.
Reduce or remove sugar, caffeine, gluten, dairy and any other pro-inflammatory food, like trans fats, cured meats or aspartame.
Fill up on healthy plant-based fats rich in omega-3 fatty acids (ground flaxseeds, olive oil, avocados).
Get enough protein – you need about 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight each day.
Eat the rainbow – fruits and vegetables of all colors will give you the full spectrum of nutrients needed to boost energy from the cellular level.
Enjoy fresh herbs and dried spices daily. Cilantro, cinnamon, and parsley are my go-tos.
And don’t forget water. Flush out any toxins and excess hormones with at least 3 liters of pure water daily.
Move with Intention
I get it – when you’re flat out exhausted, pushing yourself through a workout is the last thing you want to do, right?
Here’s your permission to ditch the idea that to gain energy you need to do a tough workout.
It’s that attitude that gets so many women over 35 in more energy downward spirals!
Your hormones are simply not in a state to take on and handle in a healthy way the stress of hard-core exercise. (Pushing through chronic fatigue will backfire, leading to more symptoms and a bigger belly!)
Instead, choose movement over exercise. And make sure your activities make you feel great doing them and afterwards.
If that means a 30 minute stroll through the park, great! If you can manage lifting a few weights, awesome! If you simply need to rest in bed with a good book, that’s perfect.
Listen to what your body is telling you…If you’re partway through a workout and suddenly your body is like “whoa, hold up here, I’m not feeling this anymore”, honor that and stop.
Level-Up Your Self-Care
This is where regaining your energy and getting back your life gets fun.
Hobbies that relax you are great. Please continue to do your favorite things every single day.
But, if you’re in a state of chronic exhaustion due to an adrenal dysfunction and chronic low-grade inflammation, you need more.
You need therapeutic stress management activities, ones that directly improves your ability to return to normal hormonal levels after a stressor hits.
One example of therapeutic stress management is deep belly breathing. Studies show that cortisol (that’s your main stress hormone) returns to normal for up to 24 hours after just 10 minutes of deep belly breathing.
Yes, You Can Reboot Your Energy in Perimenopause
Life is busy and it may seem like you’re doing it all right with diet and lifestyle.
But, if you’re struggling with chronic fatigue and it’s getting in the way of you enjoying life, it’s time to level up.
You can reboot your energy and get back your life in perimenopause.
You need the right diet to bridge and repair your nutrient gaps.
You need an exercise plan that harnesses and respects your energy levels.
You need therapeutic self-care practices that are simple to do and easy to fit into your busy life.
And if it feels like you’re missing one or all of these things, then let me help you.
You can book a free Energy Audit Call with me anytime to go through your energy struggles. On the call, you’ll discover the root cause nutrition and lifestyle factors holding you back from living a life you love.
And, you’ll get solutions that actually work.